Sunday, July 22, 2007

Death of a Prophet

I received a call this afternoon telling me that one of my most revered teachers, Rabbi Sherwin T. Wine of the Birmingham Temple in Bloomfield Hills, MI., was killed in a car crash in Morocco earlier today.

Rabbi Wine was the founder of Humanistic Judaism, an unabashedly atheistic brand of Jewish life that never hesitated to ask the hard questions and offer even harder answers. Whether or not you were convinced by the later, you could not, and indeed did not want to escape the former. Rabbi Wine spoke clearly. You knew where he stood so you could discover where you wished to stand. I do my best to imitate his courage and his clarity.

I found in Rabbi Wine a great teacher, mentor, and prophet. While we disagreed theologically, I was and continue to be indebted to him as a powerful force in shaping my own rabbinate.

A little over a year ago I was lucky enough to visit Rabbi Wine at his office in the Birmingham Temple. I went to thank him for being my rabbi. Now that he has died so unexpectedly, that visit is all the more precious to me. It is good to seek out your teachers and let them know how important they have been to you.

I am posting this to honor the man and his memory, and to offer my condolences to all those who mourn his untimely death.

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